Tips & Tricks: Issue 26

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This article is from Issue 26 of Woodcraft Magazine.

Self-squaring, clamp-saving door assembler

While assembling some doors for my new shop cabinets, I found myself working faster than the slow-setting glue and my humble collection of clamps would allow. Not ready to call it quits for the day, I came up with this no-clamp setup that enabled me to finish the job in less time, and for less money, than it would have taken to buy more clamps. This tip can be applied to any ¾"-thick piece of scrap plywood, hardwood, or Melamine, but I liked it so much that I outfitted my assembly table with a similar set of clamping guides.

Starting with a panel surface several inches larger than the door, use a framing square to position two perpendicular guide strips. Next, cut a pair of 15° wedges (the actual angle isn’t terribly critical). Place a door into the assembly corner and position the wedges along the door’s outside corners. Now screw two blocks near the corners of the door so that when the wedges are tapped, the pressure is directed against the joint.

As an extra benefit, the table keeps the doors square and flat, and the wedge clamps are less likely to dent the wood. Just make sure to wax the table and the guides to prevent the assembly from sticking to your clamping table.

—David Miller, Clemmons, North Carolina

Zero-clearance sanding table

The problem with sanding small parts on a disc sander is the gap between the table and spinning disc. Should the piece tip or your grip slip, the disc will wrench the wood out of your hand (see our Workshop Mishaps on page 80). In an instant, you’ll find yourself with a ruined part and sometimes a really bad case of road rash. 

To save all my parts, I cut a piece of ¼"-thick hardboard a few inches wider than the table and positioned it against the sanding wheel, neatly bridging that finger-eating gap. Use clamps to keep the auxiliary table in place. Consider screwing a stop to the bottom of the hardboard to keep the table from creeping into the sander and disappearing in a cloud of dust.

—Tom Goltry, Platteville, Wisconsin

No-cost center finder 

Here’s a no-cost trick for finding the center of a dowel using a scrap of wood with a thickness that’s approximately the radius of the circle. Position the cylinder’s end against the board, then run the tip of a sharp pencil along the end and mark the edge. Rotate the cylinder approximately 90°, and make another line. Repeat two more times. The intersecting lines should create a tiny square on the end of the cylinder; from there you can judge the center by eye.

—Robert J. Settich, Gladstone, Missouri


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